Cincinnati Reds: Who was the best player in team history to wear No. 3?

LOS ANGELES - MAY 13: Ken Griffey Jr. #3 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - MAY 13: Ken Griffey Jr. #3 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Ken Griffey Jr. once wore No. 3 while playing for the Cincinnati Reds, but is he the greatest player in team history to ever wear that uniform number?

Throughout the storied history of the Cincinnati Reds, 18 different players have worn the No. 3 on their jersey. Ken Griffey Jr. switched from No. 30 to No. 3 in 2006, but is The Kid the greatest player in team history to ever worn that number? Let’s take a look.

Now, before you quickly dismiss the other 17 players to have worn No. 3 during their time with the Reds and pronounce Griffey Jr. as the unanimous winner, shall we look at The Kid’s stats during that three year period in which he wore No. 3?

Ken Griffey Jr. is a Hall of Famer and perhaps the greatest player of his generation, so it’s easy to recognize him as the greatest Reds player to ever wear whatever jersey number you want to throw out there, right? However, from 2006 to 2008, the timespan in which Junior wore the No. 3, he went to just one All-Star Game and hit just 72 home runs over 341 games.

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During the previous six seasons with the ball club, Griffey Jr. played in just 590 games and hit 138 home runs. He played fewer than 100 games in three of those six seasons. Junior was traded to the Chicago White Sox during the 2008 season and returned to his roots in the Emerald City from 2009 to 2010, playing his final 150 games with the Seattle Mariners.

Over his nine seasons in the Queen City, Ken Griffey Jr. hit .270/.362/.514 with 210 home runs and  602 RBIs. Those numbers are not near what fans saw from Griffey Jr. during the early part of his career in Seattle when The Kid hit .299/.380/.569 with 398 home runs and 1,152 RBIs en route to 10 consecutive trips to the All-Star Game, 10 Gold Gloves and an MVP.

So, is there anyone else throughout the entire 150-year history of the Cincinnati Reds who’s worn No. 3 that ever comes close to Junior? Eh, I wouldn’t count on it, but there are some memorable players that have donned that jersey throughout the years. A fan-favorite who hit four home runs in a single game happened to the wear No. 3.

Scooter Gennett, who was one of the greatest waiver wire pickups in club history, wore No. 3 from 2018 to 2019. Gennett, a Cincinnati native, quickly became a favorite among fans throughout Reds Country. Gennett wore No. 4 during his first season in Cincinnati, but after Patrick Kivlehan left following the 2017 season, Scooter picked up the No. 3 to honor Dale Earnhardt.

Not many Reds greats have worn the No. 3 over the years. Pokey Reese wore the number from 1997 to 2001 and D’Angelo Jiménez suited up in the No. 3 from 2003 to 2005. A few fans may remember that Ryan Freel, who wore the No. 6 throughout most of his Reds tenure, received the No. 3 during his first year with the Reds in 2003.

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Even if you take away the career that Ken Griffey Jr. carved out before coming to Cincinnati, he’d still be the best player in team history to ever wear the No. 3. Sadly, even if you limited the qualifications to the time he actually wore the number itself (2006 to 2008), he’d still best every other player who’s ever worn it.